In this lesson, students will conduct research and write a formal paper on child soldiers. Students will learn about primary and secondary sources and how to determine the credibility of their sources. The teacher will provide support on how students should record their citations and how to take notes on note cards. This is part three of a three-part lesson on child soldiers.
Unit overview: This unit will guide students though the process of reading multiple texts to develop knowledge about the topic of child soldiers and will culminate in a final research project. The first lesson focuses on news articles while the second lesson concentrates on one former child soldier's story as portrayed through interviews and his music. As a whole, the unit integrates close reading of multiple sources with speaking and listening activities and provides students with opportunities to write routinely from sources throughout the unit. The unit provides ample occasions for students to read, evaluate, and analyze complex texts as well as routine writing opportunities that encourage reflection.
Subject(s): English Language Arts
Grade Level(s): 7
Computer for Presenter, Computers for Students, Internet Connection, LCD Projector, Speakers/Headphones, Microsoft Office, Computer Media Player
Resource supports reading in content area:Yes
Freely Available: Yes
Keywords: child, soldiers, child soldiers, research, sources, primary, secondary, notes
Lesson Plan Template: General Lesson Plan
Learning Objectives: What should students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
- be able to apply the steps of the research process to a research project about child soldiers.
- determine whether sources are credible and use information only from those sources that are deemed credible.
- correctly cite sources used in their research paper in both a bibliography, works cited, and in-text citations.
- synthesize information from multiple sources, including primary and secondary sources, to produce a coherent paper.
- produce a final research paper where they introduce a topic and develop that topic with supporting facts from their research, use appropriate transitions throughout the paper to connect their ideas together, use precise language and maintain a formal style, and provide an appropriate concluding section.
Prior Knowledge: What prior knowledge should students have for this lesson?
Students should have completed parts one and two of this unit, "Analysis of News Articles" and "Music of a War Child," before beginning this lesson.
It would be helpful if students were versed in citing sources both in the text of their paper and in a bibliography and works cited page.
If students do not have this knowledge, the teacher should include a lesson on source citation in the Teaching Phase.
BrainPOP has a resource if your district has a subscription, or teachers can use one of the following websites:
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
- What is the purpose of a research paper?
- How can you determine if a source is credible or not?
- What is the difference between primary sources and secondary sources, and what is each one good for?
- Why is it important to credit sources?
- What do I think people/governments should do about the issue of child soldiers?
- How can I use what I learned about research to be a better consumer of information about other topics that I care about?
Teaching Phase: How will the teacher present the concept or skill to students?
Teachers can show either or both of the following video clips featuring former child soldier and author of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, Ishmael Beah, as a "hook" for this portion of the lesson, particularly if they have not completed lessons 1 and 2 in the series:
Activation of Prior Knowledge:
- Students should complete the "K" and "W" columns of the KWL chart.docx.
- The teacher may choose to have either a verbal discussion of student responses or collect responses on an interactive whiteboard or chart paper.
- The teacher should spend a class period to go over with students the difference between primary and secondary sources, since students will be required to use at least two primary and two secondary sources for their research.
- Teachers who do not already have materials for teaching this may want to use one of these resources:
- Students should complete a practice worksheet identifying primary vs. secondary sources.
- Note: This portion of the lesson may take an entire class period or two.
- The teacher should take another class period to show students how to determine if a source is credible or not credible and how to find proper sources for their research paper.
- Teachers should also make time to carefully teach students how to access any subscription sources their district provides, such as Gale resources.
- If students have not conducted research earlier in the year, it is recommended that teachers take an entire class period to model effective searching techniques for students on a different yet related topic – such as the Lost Boys of Sudan – to show students how to search effectively without giving away too much about students' own research. This modeling portion should include a web search using Boolean search techniques, determination of the credibility of sources gleaned from that search, a search of district provided resources, and a search for primary source documents.
Guided Practice: What activities or exercises will the students complete with teacher guidance?
Note: For this portion of the lesson, the teacher's research topic to model is "How do different military groups get child soldiers in the first place?" Students have not determined their topics yet.
- If technology is available, have students access the article "Youth Lost: Ugandan Child Soldiers in the Lord's Resistance Army" at this website:
- If not, the teacher can make copies of the article for students.
- The teacher should model the procedure for beginning to use a new source:
- The teacher should first model for students how to evaluate this source for credibility according to the criteria he/she has established for the class.
- Once the source is deemed credible, he/she should review all of the subheadings in the article to see if the information in this source seems to fit with the teacher's research topic and therefore should be read thoroughly.
- Upon determining that the source is likely to be useful, the teacher will use Word or Citation Machine to produce a correct citation for this source and save it to his/her document before proceeding to any note-taking.
- The teacher should also determine whether this is a primary or secondary source and remind students that they need a minimum of two of each for their paper, plus a fifth source of either type.
- Students should be told that this is always the correct procedure for beginning use of any new source (before taking notes).
- Next, the teacher will begin gleaning information from the article "Youth Lost: Ugandan Child Soldiers in the Lord's Resistance Army" by reading the overview in small pieces, explaining any difficult concepts or vocabulary along the way. The teacher should point out that when students are researching they may want to take notes on this part of an article, but for our purposes in class we are not going to take notes until the second section, where the information on recruitment best fits our research question.
- Note: The teacher may want to give the students a few minutes to summarize the situation in Sudan before proceeding to the rest of the article, as this beginning piece of the article is very dense with information.
- The teacher will begin modeling the actual note taking portion of the process by reading the first paragraph under the subheading "Recruitment" aloud twice, explaining to students that reading twice before taking notes is a good way to make sure you are understanding the information before writing anything down.
- During the third reading, the teacher should take notes on a whiteboard or using a document camera, being sure to list each fact separately in his/her own words and using note form rather than complete sentences. The recommended notes for this first paragraph are:
- LRA not joining for money
- LRA not orphans
- LRA many kidnapped
- Some born into LRA
- Babies born into LRA not joining for "revenge, glamour, glory, economic opportunity, and survival"
- Other child soldiers join for "revenge, glamour, glory, economic opportunity, and survival"
- The teacher will go over with the students that when conducting research, each of these facts must be written on a separate note card so that they can be organized easily later. That is why the last fact needs to repeat the reasons that other child soldiers join, even though the note above said that babies born into the LRA don't join for those reasons. Later, when sorting out note cards, those two cards may become separated. Each card needs to be brief, yet stand alone. That is also why "LRA" needs to be on every card - the student may research more than one army that uses child soldiers and needs to be able to distinguish between them. The teacher should also mention that students should use their own words whenever possible when taking notes. When they cannot use their own words, they need to indicate this by using quotation marks.
- The teacher will produce a sample note card on an index card with the author's name on the back (Falkenburg) and "LRA not joining for money" on the front. This will serve as a sample for all student note cards.
- The teacher should point out to students that because the citation for the source has already been created, only the author's last name needs to appear on the back of the note card to identify the correct source for the information.
- This may also be a good place for the teacher to point out that if he/she finds another source by Falkenburg later in his/her research, as sometimes happens, the author's last name will not be good enough as an identifier for the source. A year or title would need to be added as well to distinguish between the two sources by the same author.
- Finally, the teacher should explain that if students find the same information in another source, they should not just ignore it. They need to add the second author's name to the card. Just because you found it in Falkenburg's article first does not mean that Mr. Smith – who wrote the second article you found that includes the same fact – does not deserve any credit. However, if you find a third source with the same information, that fact has now become common knowledge and does not need to be specifically cited. Students can indicate this with a light "X" drawn through the authors' names on the back of the card.
- The teacher should now read the second paragraph in the "Recruitment" section and have the students take notes.
- Remind students that they do not need to write in complete sentences, and each fact from the paragraph should be listed separately.
- Students should produce notes that are similar to the following:
- LRA has weapons, not enough soldiers
- Children are easy to manipulate, cheap, healthy, learn quickly
- Children don't fear death - good in battle
- As Alcinda Honwana describes, the LRA's end goal is that, "[the children become] empty vessels into which the capacity for violence has been poured."
- Some children are porters, cooks, sex slaves.
- The teacher should display these notes in some way, i.e. using a projector or document camera, for students to compare their notes to the ideal.
- At this point, the teacher can choose to go back to modeling note taking for several more paragraphs in the "Recruitment" section if the students seem to be struggling. The teacher may also choose to have students work in groups to take notes on some of the paragraphs in this section.
- Once it seems that students understand how to take notes, the teacher may ask them to independently take notes on another paragraph in this section as a formative assessment to be turned in.
Independent Practice: What activities or exercises will students complete to reinforce the concepts and skills developed in the lesson?
Note: Research Paper Assignment.docxThe is attached, and includes a sample rubric for students to use to help them write their paper. All of the requirements for this assignment should be carefully considered by the teacher and possibly modified before copying the document for distribution to students. It is not recommended that this assignment be handed out earlier in the lesson - students will process the information better if it is presented after they understand how to conduct their research properly.
- The teacher should now pass out the Research Paper Assignment and go over all of the requirements, including due dates for students to have a research question, certain numbers of note cards, a completed outline, etc.
- Note: Deadlines are included on the assignment sheet; however, teachers are encouraged to modify these requirements to fit their needs and those of their students. For example, the requirement of 60 note cards may be too much for some students or topics. Other teachers may wish to entirely omit the requirement for students to have half of their paper typed by a certain date or add in their own requirements.
- Topic Selection: After students understand the assignment and before they begin doing any actual research, students should look at the "W"sectionoftheirKWL from the beginning of this lesson and determine what they want to find out about child soldiers.
- If students don't seem to have many ideas, the teacher should conduct a class discussion to generate possible topics.
- Teachers should ask students to submit their topics for review and carefully look over all topics to be sure that students can find enough information on their topic and write a paper that meets the length requirement.
- It is recommended that students be given at least 4-5 days to complete their research on their own.
- After students complete their research, they should have 1-2 class periods to organize their information and another class period to complete an organizer for their paper.
- Teachers may use this Child_Soldiers_Organizer.docx outline-style , but should be sure to point out to students that four body paragraphs is just a suggestion. Some students will only have two or three body paragraphs, others may have five very short paragraphs if their topic warrants it.
- Note: The teacher may wish to model the process for students to organize their information and write their outline, perhaps using a different topic.
- Teachers may want to add a peer feedback section to this lesson. This can be accomplished in many ways, including:
- Teachers can have students "grade" each other's papers according to the rubric, perhaps adding a few sentences of explanation if they don't give full credit in a category.
- The teacher could develop a separate form that lists the requirements for the paper as questions in a way that they would reveal weaknesses in a student's writing. For example, some questions could be, "Is there anything in the introduction that is not explained in the paper?" or, "Is there anything in the paper that is not introduced in the introduction?" Similarly, questions like, "Explain why the conclusion does or does not summarize the rest of the paper," could elicit good information for the author.
- The teacher could create actual tasks for peer reviewers such as, "Highlight some high level vocabulary or complex sentences that the author used in yellow," or, "Highlight in orange some easy vocabulary or basic sentences that the author may want to improve." Students can also circle errors that they see.
- It is recommended that at the least, students read their paper aloud to a peer or have a peer read their paper to them, as a proofreading technique.
Closure: How will the teacher assist students in organizing the knowledge gained in the lesson?
Upon completion of their research paper, students will return to their KWL! chart, complete the "L" and "!" portions, and then share them with their groups. The students will then share out what their research question was and what they learned.
The final draft of the research paper including the bibliography and Works Cited page will serve as the final assessment.
A Rubric.docx is attached.
Hook and Activation of Prior Knowledge:
- The teacher will circulate and gather information about students' background knowledge from their KWL chart.docx.
- If there is not time in class for a discussion or gathering of student responses, the teacher could collect charts to skim.
Primary/Secondary Sources Worksheet:
- The teacher will circulate and gather information about whether students are understanding the difference between primary and secondary sources.
- Optional exit ticket: The teacher could ask students what primary and secondary sources they think they will find pertaining to their own topic.
- The teacher will ask students to list signs that a website is credible and signs that a website is not credible on an exit ticket.
- The teacher will circulate while students take notes on the model article, "Youth Lost: Ugandan Child Soldiers in the Lord's Resistance Army," looking for students who are writing in complete sentences, not using their own words, and/or omitting important information.
- The teacher will also collect notes for one of the paragraphs. Students should write these notes on a separate piece of paper.
- The teacher should collect research questions to ensure that students have a proper focus for their research before beginning.
- Teachers should monitor that students are finding credible primary and secondary sources, gathering information on note cards correctly, and creating citations as they go.
- It is also recommended that the teacher keep a close eye on students' research questions to be sure they are not too narrow or too broad and that students are finding enough appropriate information.
- Teachers should collect students' organizers and evaluate them closely before students begin to write their papers.
Feedback to Students
Hook and Activation of Prior Knowledge:
- The teacher will provide verbal feedback to students on their KWL charts.
- Students should be encouraged to be thoughtful with the "W" column of their chart, as this is where their research question will come from.
- Students who have not completed the first two lessons may need to supplement what they learned from the video with knowledge they have about wars in general for the "K" section – how wars are fought, who fights in them, what the cost is for countries or groups engaged in war, what soldiers suffer, etc.
- They may also need to be guided towards questions about child soldiers for their "W" column.
- If the teacher collects charts, he/she could verbally reinforce concepts that students seem to be missing at the start of the next class.
Practice Worksheet Primary/Secondary Sources:
- The teacher will give feedback while circulating to help students understand the difference between primary and secondary sources.
- Optional exit ticket: Students should be able to tell that interviews with current or former child soldiers, military personnel, and aid workers who rescued these soldiers would be primary sources, and news and magazine articles that synthesize information about child soldiers (and the authors did not witness or participate in the events directly) would be secondary sources.
- The teacher could review these with the whole class the following day.
- The next day, the teacher will review signs that a website is/is not credible, focusing on those that students omitted from their exit tickets.
- When students are taking notes on the article, "Youth Lost: Ugandan Child Soldiers in the Lord's Resistance Army," the teacher will circulate and give individual verbal feedback.
- To ensure that students are evaluating their own performance and learning from their mistakes, the teacher could have students revise their note cards in another color ink – adding important facts they missed and deleting extraneous details they don't need – and circulate again as they are doing so.
- The teacher could also choose to collect these cards and provide written or whole-group verbal feedback the next day based on common strengths and areas for improvement.
- If the class is working paragraph-by-paragraph at the same rate, the teacher could call on a student or two after each paragraph to share their notecards and explain how they were on the right track or how they were a little off and needed to revise.
- The teacher should also provide feedback for individual students on the one paragraph that he/she collected the notes for.
- Students should be corrected if they are not using their own words, and/or omitting important information.
- Teachers should carefully look over all topics to be sure that students can find enough information and write a paper that meets the length requirement. For example, "How many child soldiers are there in the world today?" will not yield a paper of more than a paragraph. "How do different armies recruit child soldiers?" "Why don't child soldiers run away?" and "How do child soldiers deal with life after the military?" would produce much better results.
- Teachers should direct students to credible primary and secondary sources, help them to gather information on note cards correctly, and create correct citations as they go.
- It is also recommended that the teacher help students to narrow or broaden their questions as needed in response to the information they are finding (or not finding).
- Teachers should provide specific written feedback on student organizers before they begin writing.
- Comments should focus on ensuring that information is organized logically, students can adequately support their ideas, and information from research seems sound.
Accommodations & Recommendations
- Students who struggle with research or writing or who work much more slowly than their peers could have different requirements for their research and/or final paper. For example, these students could be required to only produce 30 note cards, only write 300 words, have only three or four total sources, etc.
- The teacher could research one topic ahead of time (why these groups recruit children in the first place, for example) and assign that topic to students who usually struggle. This will allow the teacher to guide those students towards effective search terms and credible articles. Students who then get far behind can be given a final article or two if necessary to round out their research. The teacher could also provide much better feedback on that topic as far as organization of facts and writing a thesis.
- Students can create a PowerPoint or Prezi summarizing their research findings and present it to the class.
- Students who work quickly could be set up as proofreaders for those who finish later. Rather than having every student read one other student's paper aloud, these fast workers could read multiple students' papers out loud to them or could complete any of the other peer review activities for multiple students. This would also allow slower workers to spend more time on their own research and writing.
Suggested Technology: Computer for Presenter, Computers for Students, Internet Connection, LCD Projector, Speakers/Headphones, Microsoft Office, Computer Media Player
- If the teacher has not already addressed plagiarism in class, he/she should do so before students write their final paper.
- Additionally, it is recommended that, if your district subscribes to an originality service such as Turnitin or SafeAssign, students be required to submit their papers to those locations to ensure that their work is original.
Lessons 1 and 2 in this unit have been attached as related CPALMS resources.
- ID 44436 - Child Soldiers Lesson 1: Analysis of News Articles
- ID 45083 - Child Soldiers Lesson 2: The Music of a War Child
Source and Access Information
Name of Author/Source: Jonathan Taylor
District/Organization of Contributor(s): Seminole
Is this Resource freely Available? Yes
Access Privileges: Public
* Please note that examples of resources are not intended as complete curriculum.